Military Spouses: A Gold Mine of Untapped Talent
Hiring military veterans has been part of the national conversation for a while now. There's been great effort and energy by smart employers and key partners to lower veteran unemployment over the last few years. And it’s worked. Veteran unemployment numbers for October 2017 fell from 3.0% to 2.7%, lower than the national unemployment rate, which decreased from 4.2% to 4.1%.
But there’s another group that is worthy of the same attention and focus: the military spouse, a demographic that is woefully unemployed and underemployed. Military spouses bring a number of key skills to the marketplace and represent a goldmine of untapped talent.
The Struggle is Real
According to a 2016 survey by Blue Star Families, financial issues and military spouse employment are among the top concerns among military families. This survey found that 21% of military spouse respondents were unemployed but actively seeking work. This is consistent with the Department of Defense’s 2015 survey of active duty spouses which found a 23% unemployment rate. The Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP) has placed that number as high as 29%.
In fact, the majority of military families are far more likely to struggle along on a single income. Military couples were 27% less likely to have dual incomes than married non-military couples with children under 18. Fewer than half of military families with a civilian spouse earned two incomes, compared with 66% of the general U.S. population with children under 18.
Call to Action
In a commentary for Military Times titled “Military Spouse Employment Is a National Security Issue,” Eric Eversole wrote, “It is in the best interest of employers to embrace military spouses to benefit from the skills, experience and resilience that they bring to the workforce. Military spouses are more highly educated than other working Americans and benefit from exposure to diverse environments, people and experiences, which provide them with diverse skill sets that strengthen workplaces.”
“Employers should make a stronger commitment to empower military spouses by introducing flexible policies — such as supporting remote work locations and office transfers — to sustain those spouses, retain their services and allow them to thrive,” Eversole wrote.
A Skilled Workforce Adept at Juggling
Spouses must often wear multiple hats: moving coordinators, employees, part-time single parents; event and social planners; advocates, community leaders, and financial managers.
The biggest challenge for military spouses is having to move often, making it difficult for them to build and sustain careers. There are often gaps in their employment, which must be explained in every interview and on every resume.
Hidden Talent Pool
As with hiring veterans, employing military spouses is simply a sound business practice. In a job market where recruiters are clamoring for talent, military spouses represent an untapped talent pool. Spouses deliver a wide array of skills that apply to a wide range of fields. As part of their spouse roles, they’ve become adaptable, resilient, strong leaders, team players and effective under pressure.
Many employers have heeded the call and are committed to hiring and retaining military spouses. As part of the Department of Defense's Spouse Education and Career Opportunities program, MSEP connects military spouses with hundreds of corporate and federal partners who have committed to recruit, hire, promote and retain military spouses. There are more than 340 MSEP partners, including many Fortune 500 companies such as Amazon, Bank of America, CVS Pharmacy, The Home Depot, Lockheed Martin, Starbucks, and Verizon.
There is still much more to be done. With roughly 1.8 million active duty military spouses, a 21 - 29% unemployment rate means 378,000 - 522,000 potential employees with valuable skills. Why not add them to your workforce?
RecruitMilitary is proud to be connected to the Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP) to enhance opportunities for and bring awareness to hiring military spouses.